Outrage over Udacity Statistics 101: But is it really worse than others?
AngryMath’s blog post on Udacity Statistics 101 (linked below) is detailed, compelling, and damning. It’s certainly not the best statistics course anywhere. But I have to wonder: Is it worse than average? It’s hard to teach statistics well (I really did try this last summer). It’s hard to teach anything well, and there’s evidence that we need to improve our teaching in computer science. This doesn’t feel like an indictment of MOOC courses overall.
In brief, here is my overall assessment: the course is amazingly, shockingly awful. It is poorly structured; it evidences an almost complete lack of planning for the lectures; it routinely fails to properly define or use standard terms or notation; it necessitates occasional massive gaps where “magic” happens; and it results in nonstandard computations that would not be accepted in normal statistical work. In surveying the course, some nights I personally got seriously depressed at the notion that this might be standard fare for the college lectures encountered by most students during their academic careers.